So why are couples snapping pictures at his feet? The statue depicts the handsome figure of a young man in a 19th century vest and swirling long coat, his hair given a rakish curl. He leans at an angle, one hand ready with the tools of his trade — pen and paper — while the other hand holds a clutch of flowers. He appears serene, confident and quite dashing. But the flesh-and-blood man could hardly have imagined such a monument.
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Broadcast in English Broadcast Archive. This month we are celebrating a major Czech literary anniversary. His father was a shopkeeper and his mother came from a family of musicians. But poetry was his passion, combined with a romantic patriotism, inspired by the Polish revolution of and the early stirrings of the Czech national revival. His work includes poetry, prose and drama, but the epic poem May is his masterpiece, placing him right at the heart of the European romantic movement.
Jarmila is his love and she is waiting for him to come to her. The starlight preens itself in tears that flow across her cheeks like sparks; the sparks are hot, her cheeks are cold. They die, like falling stars, and where they fall, the flowers fold. Someone who is dressed like this appears. And he curses her. The reason he is to be executed is because he killed the person who seduced or betrayed Jarmila before she met him. She then leaps into the lake and drowns.
And he is despairing until he hears the beautiful sound of a horn, a French horn, blowing in the evening, and then his spirit is calmed. The village has come to see the execution and so there is a lot of posturing as we climb up the mountain. We can see all the beauty of the landscape. It really is one of the loveliest sections. You, who in your distant courses embrace the earth with secret arms, you melted stars, blue shades of sky, you mourners, saddening yourselves, dissolving into silent tears, I choose you now as messengers.
Where in your distant course, you drift, and there, wherever you find a shore, in wandering, greet the land for me. Oh, lovely earth, beloved earth, my cradle and my grave, my mother, my only homeland, my given inheritance, this vast earth, this one and only! That is a wonderful extract, because you have the two core features of romanticism — the relationship to nature and also the tragic, misunderstood young man, going to his execution.
One of the features of the Czech romantic movement was this association with the earth, the land and the country, the patriotic movement. He becomes very nervous and his horse almost throws him, so he goes to the inn and asks what happened. He comes back after seven years and revisits the site. He sees that the sunset has turned the white bone into a blush colour, so that it looks like sunset. The sunset is being mirrored onto his skull. He sees the fireflies playing through the eyes and he sees the dew like tears.
So, by writing about this particular topic, he was letting Czech soar, he was using Czech in a most beautiful manner possible, and he was really expanding the language and increasing its range. But his contemporaries did not understand that and actually shunned him for writing about such horrible and decadent themes as a captive, a criminal and individual love, which violates social codes.
He was inspired by Shelley as well. He was also, like Shelley and Byron, a wanderer. And so he walked down to Italy, through the Alps and all over what is now the Czech Republic as well. That helps to explain the beauty of the language, where he is describing the natural world…. I should imagine that this made the translating a little bit easier….
Shakespeare is a perfect example. In order to keep the rhyme, I would have had to invert the sentence structure and it would have sounded very formal, very artificial.
So I decided to read it in Czech. Now, at the time, I had been there for six months and reading it in Czech meant that I was basically translating it as I read it. And I also had a wonderful Czech boyfriend, who took me round to all of the sites that occur in the book on his motorcycle. It was very romantic and we got to see the sites. And your name, Marcela Sulak, is very much a typical Czech name.
You have roots in this part of the world…. All four of my grandparents are from here and we grew up hearing my grandparents speak Czech and talk about how wonderful the old country was, my entire childhood!
Czech government reopens borders sooner than planned, special regime with Slovakia. Official: Covid not primary cause of death in 60 percent of those who have died with disease. MENU Toggle navigation. Subscribe to RSS. Download: MP3. And where does it go from there? David Vaughan. Related articles. More from Radio Prague. Most Popular.
Karel Hynek Mácha: the poet of lovers
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Karel Hynek Mácha Statue
Broadcast in English Broadcast Archive. This month we are celebrating a major Czech literary anniversary. His father was a shopkeeper and his mother came from a family of musicians. But poetry was his passion, combined with a romantic patriotism, inspired by the Polish revolution of and the early stirrings of the Czech national revival.